Speaker Shootout - two of the most accurate and well reviewed speakers ever made - Page 13 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #361 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Dbuudo07 View Post
What in the flying fish market?!

I didn't expect it to be so one sided. I look forward to reading more.

Thank you, John.
Must come down to the dome vs. the CD. It's tough for CD's to compete against the domes. The M2 is the best CD design I've heard, and achieves a level of performance that doesn't leave me wanting, but I am not surprised the dome edged it out in an A/B comparo.
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post #362 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
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FYI I have asked all of those that participated to comment here freely. Expect detailed comments over the next couple of days.

We had 11 critical listeners over the last two days, plus myself and my crew, for a total of 15 scores. Out of the 15, three people consistently preferred the M2s over the Salons2, while the rest preferred the Salon2s generally. We also had three people who consistently preferred the Salon2s down the line, track by track, while the "middle group" tended to prefer the Salon2s, tilting the results in their favor.

Tracks, as provided by Dr. Sean Olive:

Bird on a Wire - Jennifer Warnes
Thriller - Michael Jackson
Take Five - Dave Brubeck
Battlestar Galactica - Stu Phillips
The Enterprise - Jerry Goldsmith (my selection)
Fat Cry - Yello
Spanish Harlem - Rebecca Pidgeon
Someone Like You - Adele
I Will Remember - Toto
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers - Dallas Wind Symphony
World in My Eyes - Depeche Mode
Vocalise - Rachmaninoff (Mischa Maisky) Cello, Piano

There was another classical track I don't have the name of (I'm ashamed - I know my classical music pretty well!)

For stereo listening sessions, the usual suspects (plus some throw in by the attendees - some great new tracks I need to get the names of):

• Let’s Get it On – Lisa Lovbrand
• These Bones – Fairfield Four
• Spanish Harlem – Rebecca Pidgeon
• Welcome to My World – Depeche Mode
• Coldest Winter – Kanye West
• Planet Dada (Flamboyant) – Yello
• Los - Rammstein
• Brick House – Sara K
• Fly Like an Eagle – Seal
• The Girl in the Other Room – Diana Krall
• Here We Go Again – Ray Charles / Norah Jones
• Limit to Your Love – James Blake
• Starstruck – Lady Gaga
• Thanks to You – Boz Scaggs
• Walk Don’t Run – California Guitar Trio
• Fever – Malia and Boris Blank
• Magnetic Lies – Malia and Boris Blank
• No Sanctuary Here – Chris Jones
• Cheek to Cheek – Tony Bennet / Lady Gaga
• Fragments of Time – Daft Punk
• Isn’t She Lovely – James Livingston
• Desafinado – Anna Karam
• Trans Island Skyway – Donald Fagen
• Jazz Variants – O-Zone Percussion Group
• Imagine – Rachel Z
• Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
• Bass Swing Trio & Barbara Buckle – Easy to Love
• Slow Train – Hans Theesink
• You Look Good to Me – Oscar Peterson
• Hey Nineteen, Babylon Sisters – Steely Dan
• A Dollar for a Dime – Joe Williams

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post #363 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
I would have expected more lopsided than that. Were the votes secret until all done so you didn't have the masses influencing the undecided?
Absolutely. No one was allowed to share their opinions, notes, body language, comments, sighs, gasps, etc, until EVERYONE was done with the listening sessions. This was a true blinded listening tests. Room placement and volume were equalized.

We also BLASTED the Salon2s Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Those worried about HT applications need not worry

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post #364 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Gooddoc View Post
Must come down to the dome vs. the CD. It's tough for CD's to compete against the domes. The M2 is the best CD design I've heard, and achieves a level of performance that doesn't leave me wanting, but I am not surprised the dome edged it out in an A/B comparo.
That's interesting, especially considering I've yet to hear a dome sound better than a good CD.
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post #365 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Shout out to my amazing crew:

Mike Adams and Paul Carroll for keeping everyone entertained and moving 160 lb. speakers back and forth for two days straight. You guys are great, and indispensable.

And, of course, my right hand man Joel Rauer, who not only designed our human powered speaker shuffler and acoustically transparent screen, but also did most of the behind the scenes heavy lifting (literally and figuratively) for this event. His brilliant design for moving the speakers back and forth came off flawlessly. More later, but it involved a large piece of mdf, some furniture moving pads, and a lot of lube, lol

All that matters is that it worked.

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post #366 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:23 PM
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post
Absolutely. No one was allowed to share their opinions, notes, body language, comments, sighs, gasps, etc, until EVERYONE was done with the listening sessions. This was a true blinded listening tests. Room placement and volume were equalized.

We also BLASTED the Salon2s Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Those worried about HT applications need not worry

Did the same rules apply to the sighted stereo listening? No stated opinions until done? That's where I would have expected a bigger gap to open up, when you factor the sound field recreation into it. I've heard the Revels and they image pretty well, and generally in the league with Dynaudios, Focals, etc. It's been a while so I can't recall as well as I'd like.

An btw, how did you equalize levels, given the giant difference in efficiency between them?
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post #367 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
Did the same rules apply to the sighted stereo listening? No stated opinions until done? That's where I would have expected a bigger gap to open up, when you factor the sound field recreation into it. I've heard the Revels and they image pretty well, and generally in the league with Dynaudios, Focals, etc. It's been a while so I can't recall as well as I'd like.
No, stereo sessions were full of conversation and -I think - a good time was had by all. As Dr. Toole has stated ad infinitum, the mono results held with the stereo results. Interesting how the Salon2s sounded wider, bigger, more spacious even with mono material.

HOWEVER, I don't want this to come across like a "Speaker A DESTROYED Speaker B" result. Both speakers are incredible, and many people were surprised when the actual speakers were revealed. And many times the Revel would receive a 9 out of 10 score on a track, while the M2 got an 8.

So it's not like one speaker "decimated" the other. I have both in my house now, and would be very happy with either. Fortunately, I don't need to make a choice

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post #368 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 06:38 PM
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That's interesting, especially considering I've yet to hear a dome sound better than a good CD.
That's not been my experience. I spent years chasing the sound of a great dome in a CD, and they all fell short of my expectations until the M2.
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post #369 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by John Schuermann View Post

And, of course, my right hand man Joel Rauer, who not only designed our human powered speaker shuffler and acoustically transparent screen, but also did most of the behind the scenes heavy lifting (literally and figuratively) for this event. His brilliant design for moving the speakers back and forth came off flawlessly. More later, but it involved a large piece of mdf, some furniture moving pads, and a lot of lube, lol

All that matters is that it worked.
That's awesome. This design will be a great template for future A/B tests. Of course the fexibility of the processor to level match and switch between and active and passive speakers will be much harder to duplicate

I am looking forward to the individual impressions. You would think the Saturday guys would have some comments posted by now....
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post #370 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
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That's awesome. This design will be a great template for future A/B tests. Of course the fexibility of the processor to level match and switch between and active and passive speakers will be much harder to duplicate

I am looking forward to the individual impressions. You would think the Saturday guys would have some comments posted by now....
I swore everyone to secrecy until tonight
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post #371 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 07:36 PM
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I swore everyone to secrecy until tonight
hi,

did you happen to take any measurements of the speakers?

THANK YOU!!! for your selfless contribution to the audio world
Anders Torger for Brutefir
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John Mulcahy for room eq wizard
Denis Sbragion for DRC room correction
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post #372 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 07:36 PM
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There was another classical track I don't have the name of (I'm ashamed - I know my classical music pretty well!)
Rimsky-Korsakov: Scheherazade

You're welcome.
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post #373 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 07:38 PM
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Awesome stuff John!

Looking forward to trying to understand what it is about the design of each speaker that lead the majority to like to Salons over the M2s. Hopefully Floyd and others will comment.
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post #374 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:08 PM
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That's not been my experience. I spent years chasing the sound of a great dome in a CD, and they all fell short of my expectations until the M2.
I don't know what it is. I guess I prefer the better measured speaker, or I haven't heard great dome designs. Either way, I don't see myself moving away from CD's anytime soon, but this has definitely opened my eyes. Now I want to seek out good domes to listen to.

Makes me a little nervous to think about which I'd prefer in a blind test...
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post #375 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:20 PM
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I don't know what it is. I guess I prefer the better measured speaker, or I haven't heard great dome designs. Either way, I don't see myself moving away from CD's anytime soon, but this has definitely opened my eyes. Now I want to seek out good domes to listen to.

Makes me a little nervous to think about which I'd prefer in a blind test...
I won't be moving away from CD's either. There is no doubt there would be compression and possible damage to the Salon 2 if I owned them. I require high output and zero compression at any volume I would possibly listen. The Salon does not have that kind of output, although I'm sure it is adequate for most people's needs. I know they get very loud cleanly. Just not M2 cleanly loud .

I have melted my share of dome tweeters and I'm done with that. That's the achilles heel of most dome designs for me.
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post #376 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:25 PM
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Great thread.

Looking at the track list, it seems to me that there is a notable absence of Rock and Hard Rock (just looking up the page at the list provided on Johns post at 365)?

Just wondering if there was more rock and hard rock mixed in? I do think that the Horns may have been preferred more often with Rock and Hard Rock. By no means saying it would have been favored, just wondering.
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post #377 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:34 PM
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I'll be the first to comment. The M2 is a very good speaker, but the Salon 2 beat it handily in my opinion. I'm fairly certain I would have chosen it without hesitation even if I weren't blind.

Most of the places where I marked down the Salon 2 were to do with low mids, which seemed a bit too strong in some places, but that sort of thing is likely to be significantly influenced by room placement and/or listening distance. Even though the speakers were in identical places, one might sound better in one part of the room than another. And of course, content difference come into play here too. In a few recordings, the very top end sounded a bit exaggerated, but I'm inclined to blame the recording. (Was that "parade" recording a Reference Recordings label? That label has a habit of hyping their highs, presumably to get people excited about their "hi-res" status.)

Otherwise, the Salon 2 was clearly superior to my ears. It sounded more extended at the top and bottom. The mid-mid and upper mids sounded smoother and flatter, and the highs were more detailed and realistic. The M2 at times seemed a bit forward in the upper mid-range. Though a few recordings benefited from having the upper mids punch through the muddying low mids a bit more. The Salon 2 possessed qualities of depth and sound-stage even as a mono speaker; whereas the sound of the M2 sounded very localized to something behind the curtain. I often described the M2 as boxy. I even thought the Salon 2 sounded more dynamic, even though the M2 definitely wins in an objective sense. That goes to show how perception of dynamics can be strongly influenced by other factors.

The strengths of the Salon 2 over the M2 were even more apparent when sitting off-axis. However, when sitting one row back, the two were harder to discern, and I sometimes felt more inclined to favor the M2.

One more point of note is that even though I tried hard not to guess which speaker I was listening to when blinded, I couldn't help but conclude that the one I liked more was the M2. And I was wrong. In hindsight, I think I should have known, being that the wider dispersion would tend to give the Salon 2 a more natural depth and image. However, I had never heard the Salon 2 before, and I knew that the M2 provided a decent sense of depth when playing in stereo. And I assumed that because the M2 measures flatter in the spinorama that the flatter mid-range I heard had to be of the M2.

Anyway, I have a few ideas concerning why the Salon 2 may have beat the M2, despite the M2 having an objectively better looking spinorama. I'll try to discuss them in later posts.
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post #378 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:35 PM
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Oh yeah, the good news for JBL is that the more expensive speaker won.
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post #379 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:37 PM
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Great thread.

Looking at the track list, it seems to me that there is a notable absence of Rock and Hard Rock (just looking up the page at the list provided on Johns post at 365)?

Just wondering if there was more rock and hard rock mixed in? I do think that the Horns may have been preferred more often with Rock and Hard Rock. By no means saying it would have been favored, just wondering.
I seriously doubt that would be the case unless we were to play at ear bleed levels or something with unusually high dynamic range like some concert videos.
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post #380 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:49 PM
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I'll be the first to comment. The M2 is a very good speaker, but the Salon 2 beat it handily in my opinion. I'm fairly certain I would have chosen it without hesitation even if I weren't blind.

Most of the places where I marked down the Salon 2 were to do with low mids, which seemed a bit too strong in some places, but that sort of thing is likely to be significantly influenced by room placement and/or listening distance. Even though the speakers were in identical places, one might sound better in one part of the room than another. And of course, content difference come into play here too. In a few recordings, the very top end sounded a bit exaggerated, but I'm inclined to blame the recording. (Was that "parade" recording a Reference Recordings label? That label has a habit of hyping their highs, presumably to get people excited about their "hi-res" status.)

Otherwise, the Salon 2 was clearly superior to my ears. It sounded more extended at the top and bottom. The mid-mid and upper mids sounded smoother and flatter, and the highs were more detailed and realistic. The M2 at times seemed a bit forward in the upper mid-range. Though a few recordings benefited from having the upper mids punch through the muddying low mids a bit more. The Salon 2 possessed qualities of depth and sound-stage even as a mono speaker; whereas the sound of the M2 sounded very localized to something behind the curtain. I often described the M2 as boxy. I even thought the Salon 2 sounded more dynamic, even though the M2 definitely wins in an objective sense. That goes to show how perception of dynamics can be strongly influenced by other factors.

The strengths of the Salon 2 over the M2 were even more apparent when sitting off-axis. However, when sitting one row back, the two were harder to discern, and I sometimes felt more inclined to favor the M2.

One more point of note is that even though I tried hard not to guess which speaker I was listening to when blinded, I couldn't help but conclude that the one I liked more was the M2. And I was wrong. In hindsight, I think I should have known, being that the wider dispersion would tend to give the Salon 2 a more natural depth and image. However, I had never heard the Salon 2 before, and I knew that the M2 provided a decent sense of depth when playing in stereo. And I assumed that because the M2 measures flatter in the spinorama that the flatter mid-range I heard had to be of the M2.

Anyway, I have a few ideas concerning why the Salon 2 may have beat the M2, despite the M2 having an objectively better looking spinorama. I'll try to discuss them in later posts.

"Was that "parade" recording a Reference Recordings label"

I wasn't there, but yes, that's Reference Recordings.

"Even though the speakers were in identical places, one might sound better in one part of the room than another."

Absolutely
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post #381 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:52 PM
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Well done on the test (everyone involved). I look forward to the comments.

It would have been fascinating to follow up with sighted tests after the blind tests to see how much they may have diverged once people were looking at the speakers.
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post #382 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 08:53 PM
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Nice work gentlemn. I cant say im suprised by the results though i was secretly rooting for the m2s, since it would be a fun result.

The only experiece i have had with the salons, i thought they sounded a bit congested when we cranked them to imprudent levels for 10 sec or so. Im sure the m2s would barley be breaking a sweat at similar spls.

Nice work by all, mostly this thread has made me feel guilty about not yet reading Toole's book which i bought about 6 months ago
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The only experiece i have had with the salons, i thought they sounded a bit congested when we cranked them to imprudent levels for 10 sec or so. Im sure the m2s would barley be breaking a sweat at similar spls.
The Salon 2s seemed to hold together quite well at high output and delivered respectable bass while doing it. However, there were a few moments when people were pushing them into the high 90s dB continuous with music mixed fairly loud in which I'm pretty sure the amps were tapping out.

My speakers are ~99 dB/2.83V/4ohm crossed at 100 Hz with 300 W/200W of power (bi-amped) from an Emotiva XPA-5, and I do occasionally push the low frequency section to within 3 dB of the amp limits. A lot of people probably run their amps to clipping and don't notice, but I like maintaining headroom to spare.
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post #384 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 09:56 PM
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Assuming they will sound different to most, it will be interesting to know the reason for it.
SPL capabilities shouldn't matter I guess, as both would be loud enough and level matched.
Could it be difference in DI ? Salon being sort of gradually increasing (with narrowing at 2kHz) and M2 being constant type (800Hz to 7 kHz)
Or Salon being, on avg, wider dispersion than M2 ?
( My above questions were before the results )

Would be interesting to hear Dr @Floyd Toole 's insights on the one sided result.

Also @John Schuermann , did the M2s had same toe in as Salons (none or otherwise) ? I wonder if cross-firing in front of listener will be beneficial to M2s ?


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The Salon 2s seemed to hold together quite well at high output and delivered respectable bass while doing it. However, there were a few moments when people were pushing them into the high 90s dB continuous with music mixed fairly loud in which I'm pretty sure the amps were tapping out.

My speakers are ~99 dB/2.83V/4ohm crossed at 100 Hz with 300 W/200W of power (bi-amped) from an Emotiva XPA-5, and I do occasionally push the low frequency section to within 3 dB of the amp limits. A lot of people probably run their amps to clipping and don't notice, but I like maintaining headroom to spare.
Clipping and compression is very insidious. I know for myself, I often have a hard time identifying it until it is way past where the speaker should be. Then I realize it in retrospect. That's why I prefer a speaker that I know is not compressing at any volume that I might listen.

That's just me though, everyone has their own priorities.
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post #386 of 1751 Old 08-13-2017, 11:18 PM
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( My above questions were before the results )

Would be interesting to hear Dr @Floyd Toole 's insights on the one sided result.

Also @John Schuermann , did the M2s had same toe in as Salons (none or otherwise) ? I wonder if cross-firing in front of listener will be beneficial to M2s ?
The listening tests were all done in mono and every listener heard every sample at least once while sitting directly on-axis.

Yes, I think the dispersion may have quite a bit to do with the Salon 2s relative performance. This aspect may vary quite a lot between rooms, so in an optimized room with a high quality early reflected diffuse field, the gap may be much narrower. I don't know for certain though.

I believe Dr. Toole has written that people like hearing early reflections with mono sources. I actually heard some early reflections explicitly, in particular on the "Spanish Harlem" track. But even without hearing the reflections explicitly, the sound from the Salon sounded a lot less like it was coming from a speaker and more like it was emerging naturally from the space.

I should mention that I use 90x40ish horns at home, which are a good bit narrower than the M2s even, and I am very satisfied with my sound. I recently watched a movie 100% in mono (on the center channel), and the sound seemed very uncolored with the image not tied to the speaker as seemed to be the case with the M2 in mono. A big difference may be my room, in which much of the sound from the horns interacts with diffusers. I also toe the left and right speakers in quite a lot, which sends a lot of their energy onto the far sidewalls. At the MLP, the stronger early reflections don't arrive for about 15-20 ms or so.

I somewhat regret having not spent more time in the sweet spot of the Salon 2s to better assess their stereo imaging properties, but I was having too much fun getting caught up in conversations and letting others enjoy themselves. A lot of stuff was being played a bit loud for my tastes. And anyway, the speakers sounded great anywhere in ear-shot. With that said, I do not recall experiencing the same focus with regard to imaging, the spatial detail, nor the degree of envelopment that I experience with my speakers at home. As I said, that may have a lot more to do with my room design though, and my design, in which I purposely avoid letting much energy arrive too early, may actually benefit from the narrower pattern because it's easier to acoustically control.

Something I'm a bit curious about is what raw polar measurements for the M2 horn look like. I saw some measurements posted on a German web site, but the resolution was very poor. What I saw didn't as impressive to me as I hoped, but because of the poor resolution, I don't really trust them. Significant variations in polar response, if they are present, could explain their "less-than-flat" sound and inferior off-axis sound quality compared to the Salon 2s. The extra early reflected energy from the Salon 2s may have had a smoothing effect on the subjective frequency response that made them sound flatter than the M2s, despite the M2 having superior spatially averaged measurements.

So what I'm basically saying here is that a speaker like the M2 or an even narrower horn might excel in a purpose built space, but in terms of getting the best performance possible from a speaker that's merely dropped into a room as-is, the Salon 2 appears to have a clear advantage.
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post #387 of 1751 Old 08-14-2017, 01:58 AM
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@awediophile

the dome is going to interact with the room even more, so it makes sense to me that a horn should be a better drop in speaker so I doubt that this is the reason for the preference for the m2.

Also, I think the less interaction a speaker has with the room, the potentially better it is. for example, if you stand(or sit) really close to a speaker the sound tends to get better. I think thats for two reasons. better frequency response and less interaction with the room.

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post #388 of 1751 Old 08-14-2017, 02:47 AM
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Originally Posted by awediophile View Post
So what I'm basically saying here is that a speaker like the M2 or an even narrower horn might excel in a purpose built space, but in terms of getting the best performance possible from a speaker that's merely dropped into a room as-is, the Salon 2 appears to have a clear advantage.
It will be interesting to hear the impressions from the 3 listeners that consistently preferred the M2. For them, there was a clear advantage for the M2
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post #389 of 1751 Old 08-14-2017, 06:02 AM
 
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Ha! I'm not scared of ANYONE!
That is the spirit John, Touche!
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post #390 of 1751 Old 08-14-2017, 06:16 AM
 
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OK, here is the short and sweet version. Official tallies to come, but going by a quick perusal of the score sheets and the conversation after the tests:

Saturday: Revel Salon2s preferred by about an 80% - 20% margin.

Sunday - Revel Salon2s preferred by about an 65% to 35% margin.

I will post more of my own thoughts later, but I am in agreement with the consensus. The M2s are great, the Salon2s are glorious

Thanks to all for participating! What a great time, seriously.


I haven't listened to revel for ages back then they sounded a bit metallic for my taste, am sure it has changed, but if they do ear bleeding well the results jive with my preferred form factor for personal immersion. Floorstanders, except my dynaudio Esotars play glorious but only to reference levels, so if the revels can play ref plus 6 that would indeed be impressive, the m2's is the very best of horn speakers but as i often say the waterfall plots don't lie. Your test confirms that domes are a better HF transducer in communicating the maximum amount of information without time smear.



Thanks John for such a transparent contribution, I too value transparency there needs to be more transparency in our field.
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